I’ve had type one diabetes for 36 years, since I was 11. In that time I’ve run six marathons—the first when I was 15 and the latest a few years ago—had a few careers, and became one of a few people in the world to have been cured of type 1 diabetes.
I was a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Washington DC bureau, the City News Bureau of Chicago, the NBC affiliate in Tucson, Arizona, Newsday, and many other publications before I turned to advertising then to writing books. During this time the only diabetic “complication” I ever had to deal with was severe hypoglycemic unawareness that got progressively so bad I ended up in several multi-day comas. To combat the problem, my doctor put me on an insulin pump and that helped curb the lows to such an extent that it became a complete non-issue in my life.
It was because of hypoglycemic unawareness, however, and my lack of any other diabetic complication, that in 2004 I was accepted into a study at the University of Virginia testing the effect of implanting insulin-producing islet cells from cadaver pancreases into a person’s liver. In 2006 I received two transplants of donor islet cells shortly afterward I became “insulin independent.” Although I had to take heavy doses of immunosuppressant medication, for more than a year I did not take insulin. It was as though I was cured of diabetes. More importantly, the study was a significant step forward in finding a cure not just myself, but for all diabetics. In my case, the islet cells, however, eventually failed and I resumed taking insulin. One unanticipated benefit even after the cells were no longer active was that I no longer suffered from hypoglycemic unawareness and the amount of insulin I take has been reduced to only two daily injections of long acting insulin.
From that experience I researched and wrote Chasing Medical Miracles: The Promise and Perils and Clinical Trials (Walker, 2009) a book about my own experience and about clinical trials in general. The book was well reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Dr, Oz Show, and a few other places. The following year I published my first novel, Bad Day for the Home Team (Zumaya, 2010). I now live in Southeastern Arizona where I am working on a novel, teaching college English, pursuing my master’s degree, and training in fits and starts to run my first 50 mile race.
I look forward to posting more on the newly designed site.